from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal view of the author.
- n. Something resembling such a composition: a photojournalistic essay.
- n. A testing or trial of the value or nature of a thing: an essay of the students' capabilities.
- n. An initial attempt or endeavor, especially a tentative attempt.
- transitive v. To make an attempt at; try.
- transitive v. To subject to a test.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A written composition of moderate length exploring a particular issue or subject.
- n. A test, experiment; an assay.
- n. An attempt.
- v. To try.
- v. To move forth, as into battle.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. An effort made, or exertion of body or mind, for the performance of anything; a trial; attempt.
- n. A composition treating of any particular subject; -- usually shorter and less methodical than a formal, finished treatise
- n. An assay. See Assay, n.
- transitive v. To exert one's power or faculties upon; to make an effort to perform; to attempt; to endeavor; to make experiment or trial of; to try.
- transitive v. To test the value and purity of (metals); to assay. See Assay.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A trial, attempt, or endeavor; an effort made; exertion of body or mind to perform or accomplish anything: as, an essay toward reform; an essay of strength.
- n. An experimental trial; a test.
- n. An assay or test of the qualities of a metal. See assay, n.
- n. In lit., a discursive composition concerned with a particular subject, usually shorter and less methodical and finished than a treatise; a short disquisition: as, an essay on the life and writings of Homer; an essay on fossils; an essay on commerce.
- n. Synonyms Struggle.
- n. Treatise, dissertation, disquisition, paper, tract, tractate. See definition of treatise.
- To make trial of; attempt; exert one's power or faculties upon; put to the test: as, to essay a difficult feat; to essay the courage of a braggart.
- To try and test the value and purity of, as metals. Now written assay (which see).
- Synonyms Undertake, Endeavor, etc. See attempt.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. an analytic or interpretive literary composition
- n. a tentative attempt
- v. put to the test, as for its quality, or give experimental use to
- v. make an effort or attempt
French essai, trial, attempt, from Old French, from essayer, to attempt, from Vulgar Latin *exagiāre, to weigh out, from Late Latin exagium, a weighing : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin agere, to drive; see ag- in Indo-European roots. V., from Middle English assaien, from Old French assaer, assaier, variant of essayer.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French essai. (Wiktionary)